ASHTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After a recent car crash left 16-year-old Paul Holley paralyzed from the chest down, his family, friends and teammates are rallying around him to show their support.
The Hannan High School community held a candlelight vigil Saturday to support Holley and raise money to help pay for his treatment and recovery.
Holley's family said they will be taking him to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Chicago, where there is a spinal cord rehabilitation center.
On the day of the crash, April Vickers, Holley's mother, said she had just gotten home from work when a neighbor knocked on her door, telling her that her son had been in an accident. She immediately went to the scene.
"He was still there. He was stuck inside," Vickers said. "They had to cut him out, because they couldn't get him out."
When Holley was taken to the hospital, doctors told his family he had broken his neck and damaged his spinal cord. Vickers described it as her "worst nightmare."
Holley, a sophomore, is a star on the basketball team. Vickers said it's difficult to know he may never play again -- she just hopes he will be able to walk again someday.
"Now he's going to have to have different dreams," she said.
Austin Akers, Holley's teammate and close friend, has been one of those supporting Holley since the crash. The vigil tonight was also a benefit for Akers, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late January.
"Less than a month ago, we were here trying to support [Akers] and raise money for him," Vickers said. "Austin has turned it all around and wants to give everything to Paul."
After Akers' diagnosis, he went through surgery and will soon begin radiation. The community raised money to help with his treatment, but now that he will be treated in Huntington, he doesn't need all of it.
"We're giving half of it to Paul Holley's family because they're going to be traveling," Pam Akers, Austin's mother, said. "There's a lot that's going to be going on in his life that he'll need it now, so we're paying it forward."
Holley is currently being treated in the Intensive Care Unit at Cabell Huntington Hospital. His mother said he is in a lot of pain.
"But he has his friends that cheer him up," she said. "If it wasn't for them, I'm sure that he would be a whole lot sadder."
Holley's teammates, including Akers, know their lives and his have changed.
"He won't be able to shoot hoops with us," Akers said.
"We were going to try our hardest to make it to the state playoffs senior year and junior year," Tyler Burns, another close friend and teammate, said. "I just can't believe it's happened."
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